Book five of The Witches' Rede series
A missing friend, a lonely artist, and an ailing inventor.
Nobody said a newlywed's life would be uneventful.
The Preternatural Activity Consultants haven’t had much luck in making their company name known—until, that is, a reporter covers Maeve Forino’s failed attempt at un-haunting San Diego’s ill-planned streetcar line.
She soon finds herself making a last-ditch effort to repair her family company’s reputation, assisting with an investigation at the Hotel del Coronado by communing with the deceased, herself, in hopes of bringing a murder suspect to justice and alleviating the hotel of its problematic guest.
Creative problem-solving soon launches the PAC to renown and the requests for aid come pouring in from around the state. A job promising an unbelievable payout sends the coven and their human friends on a journey to picturesque Northern California, where the desperate plea for help becomes a fight for their lives and proves to one member of the PAC that a dream come true may actually be a nightmare.
Enjoy an excerpt:
Aria’s jaw dropped, her gaze darting to Rafaele. “This … boyish … orange-haired, pasty-skinned … gnome … with the gutter accent … is the person you say you’ve married. Mr. Forino, I do believe you’re pulling my leg!”
Maeve did nothing but gape at her insults while Rafaele replied with a placid, “I’m serious, Mrs. Blanc. This is my wife.”
“Well! It’s obvious why you continue to be childless.” Aria’s mouth curled into a sneer. “There isn’t a birthing hip on her!”
Perhaps Maeve would’ve reacted so strongly at any other time. It might’ve stung more fiercely because the disappointment that came with her monthly bleed was as fresh as her soiled sanitary napkins. Whatever the case, Maeve screamed and lunged for Aria, forgetting entirely about the eight little wooden wheels beneath her boots.
The attack was more flail than assault; Rafaele had to both restrain and support her. “Darling—please—”
Maeve’s tantrum merely seemed to fuel Aria’s laughter. “Oh! Rafaele!” She applauded through her glee. “She’s hilarious! Why ever were you hiding her from me?”
Maeve wrenched herself from Rafaele’s grip, directing her fury now at him. “Excuse me?”
“It’s not how she’s making it sound!” Beads of sweat appeared on his forehead to the contrary.
“Oh, please! I’ve been begging to meet this woman for weeks now,” Aria replied to him. “And it’s been one excuse after the next: She’s ill; a street urchin stole your horse; it was too cold out and the day following, too warm. The date always fell through.” She grinned at Maeve. “He’s embarrassed!”
“That’s not it at all—” blurted Rafaele, reaching for his wife, who was so hot with her fury that she was surprised the roller skates weren’t ash and molten steel beneath her boots.
Maeve shoved Rafaele back and squared her shoulders. At the moment, she was stable on her feet but barely keeping her temper in check. She inhaled, setting her sights on Aria as Aibheaeg began to resurface. “I—” A nearby flash stole away Maeve’s focus, dissipating her hot temper.
She spun in her spot—a graceful move for a graceless woman on roller skates—to follow what caught her eye: a blindingly chartreuse gown paired with a comically oversized violet bonnet.
And a pair of iridescent, predominantly teal wings that caught the sunlight with each flutter and tiny twitch, extending from slashes in the back of the woman’s bodice. “Cad é—!”
Continuing to stare at her, Maeve groped for Rafaele’s arm to pull him near. “Do ye see her?” She pointed.
“The … woman in the horrific attire?” Aria answered though the question was obviously meant for Rafaele. “How could you miss such a caricature of a lady in clothing so ghastly?”
Regardless of Rafaele and his horrible employer, Maeve attempted to pursue what looked unmistakably like a real-life, living, breathing sidhe.
The fae headed away from the beach, stopping infrequently to offer a little piece of paper to someone passing her by. Maeve approached but kept her distance and before long, fell behind again.
Of the four people to receive a piece of paper from the sidhe, only one kept it.
Another spared a glance before balling it in his fist and dropping it on the ground.
The fae dashed back to the walkway heading toward the station, leaving the beachfront.
Despite having the means to travel faster than the sidhe ran, Maeve’s lack of familiarity with the roller skates contributed to her falling further behind the fairy now that her walking hastened, and then losing her altogether amid a gathering crowd as it disembarked the southbound train.
Defeated—and now more than a little agitated—Maeve dawdled in returning to her husband. She hoped by then Aria would be gone.
On the way back to her husband, Maeve paused long enough to grab the crumpled flyer from where that person had littered. There wasn’t much on it; a few short words:
* be as you are *
L’Aringa Rossa. That was lovely. Melodic. Maeve recognized the word rossa as red—if it were, in fact, Italian.
She stuffed the fly-sheet into her righthand pocket—at least there was one good thing about these ridiculous, voluminous pants—and approached her husband who, unfortunately, was still in the company of his employer.
“—for you alone, but after meeting your …” Aria gave a throaty chuckle, “… wife … I insist you bring her with. She’ll be a positively brilliant addition to the entertainment.” Her cool gaze flickered toward Maeve before she tucked her parasol into her underarm and addressed her entourage with a single clap. “Ladies? We must away.” Passing Rafaele, she smiled amorously. “A pleasure as always, you sinfully handsome man.” Aria paused, turning a cool look on Maeve. “And, by-the-by, even if I were a sexual deviant such as yourself, you most certainly would not be my type.”